Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Apple 'netbook' due October. And, the CrunchPad?

Computerworld reports that the coming Apple netbook (others say tablet) will sell for about $800, with a 9.7" screen (the size of the Kindle DX) according to a Taiwanese news site [I linked a Google automated, though primitive, web-translation].

The expected price is high but Technology Business Research's Ezra Gottheil says "Apple has never been above squeezing early adopters."  As either a touchscreen notebook or Internet tablet, this would be the cost before adding on monthly wireless charges as Apple of course would need to do for Internet access outside the home or office, but for customers who want color and video, the $800 cost plus $720/year wireless access charges (or ~$1,520 for first year) would probably be worth it.  Computerworld says that, according to Infotimes,
' Apple has placed orders with three Taiwanese electronics manufacturers -- Dynapack International Technology, Foxconn and Wintek -- for components that will be assembled into a netbook. Wintek, said InfoTimes, will produce the 9.7-in. touch screens. Foxconn is a contract netbook and notebook maker, and it will be the primary manufacturer for Apple's netbook. '
Gottheil wonders what it will do about a keyboard, though I don't see anything indicating it wouldn't have either a physical or virtual one.  He is hoping for an external one.  Computerworld ends its report with
' But Gottheil was sticking to his "iPod on steroids" vision of whatever Apple introduces to fill the gap between the top-end iPhone and the low-end MacBook Pro.  "That's more likely, I think, than a traditional netbook," he said.  "Even outside of Apple, this has to happen.  PCs, even Macs, are a combination of a professional tool and a hobbyist's device." '

And then there's the announcement still expected, for July, of TechCrunch's CrunchPad, which is a 12" tablet web-browser expected to sell for $350 which will be dedicated to browsing the web in color with no internal storage but with a card slot for external storage.

  In the Chicago Sun-Times report by the always pragmatic Andy Ihnatko, he (unlike other columnists) mentions the need for either WiFi or 3G wireless access and wonders whether 3G capability will be included.

  As of now, no one has said publicly whether the capability is only WiFi (useable at home or office with your WiFi network or at hotspots when out) or also 3G wireless, but there have been hints from salespeople mentioning 3G when apologizing for some halting in the video.

 3G Wireless would be great but will be a capability that requires (except for the Kindles) that the customer buy the monthly wireless (usually $60/month).  However, the other option of WiFi access at home, while relaxing in your chair, and webbing that way, would be great.  I think they'll sell plenty of these for people with WiFi in the house, and WiFi is easy to set up for a total of $50 or less.

Neither of these are e-readers, but the Apple tablet would almost surely have Apple apps capability which means that one could read e-books even if with backlighting, which many would appreciate at night.  But for $800 it would be a luxury to get it for e-book reading.  And battery life would be shorter.  For Net access away from home/office networks, the Apple would cost about $1,520 for the first year and then about $720 plus taxes and fees in subsequent years.

This will be interesting to watch since the Apple tablet wouldn't be as capable as a Netbook with hard drive and normal apps and would be overkill for book-reading while not as easy on the eyes for pure-reading as is the otherwise more limited e-ink screen.  But Apple always makes devices that attract.
  Here are speculations on the form factor and operating system.

I think the CrunchPad will be an easier sell though.  Ihnatko's report includes a video of a demo of the CrunchPad in April. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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